One of my favorite things about growing up as a country girl was all the catch phrases you could hear on any given day.
I loved it when you were telling someone goodbye with a “See you later, alligator” and they would r,eply, “After a while, crocodile.”
Another one of my favorite replies was, “If the good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise.”
One day I had to explain this phrase to one of my city friends because he had never been stranded at home by flood water.
I grew up north of Richmond and the back side of our farm has a branch of Crooked River running through it. If it rained hard all night long, we could wake up to find our bottom land covered by flood water.
Sometimes you could hear the roar of the water before daylight so you would know what to expect when the sun came up.
This creek didn’t affect us because we used a different road to get to town but there were a few times that water got over the road on B Highway. I remember one year we were cut off from civilization for a couple of days and our neighbors road a motorcycle down the railroad track to Richmond. The trains were never stopped by the flood in our neighborhood, but they would slow down just to be on the safe side.
Campbell Snyder was our neighbor and he had two ponds that were stocked with fish. Many Ray County men paid to fish at his ponds. One year, the floodwaters backed all the way up to his pond and we stood there with him as he watched some of his big fish swim over the top of his pond bank and head on downstream. It’s funny the things you remember from your childhood because I can still see those big old fish swimming over the bank like it was yesterday.
Ray County has been affected by many floods over the years and the flood of 1951 is one that many remember. On July 20, 1951, The Richmond News published a letter that the Ray County Flood Disaster Committee sent to Washington, D.C. Our Ray County guys did not waste time contacting their Congressman; they went straight to the top.
This is how the newspaper introduced it: “Ask President for $250,000 For Flood Aid – Telegram Sent to Truman Last Night Lists Extent of Disaster Here.”
The Flood Disaster Committee was a group of farmers from Orrick, Camden, Henrietta and Hardin. W.G. Calvert was the President, Luman Offutt of Orrick was the vice president, R.W. Eslinger of Hardin was the treasurer and Nelson Hill was the secretary.
This is their letter: “The Honorable Harry S. Truman, President of the United States, Washington, D.C. As you know from first-hand knowledge, the flood disaster in the Missouri River Valley is of such stupendous magnitude that local relief measures are entirely inadequate.”
They explained that 65,000 acres of crops had been destroyed and 400 farmers had suffered heavy losses. They also mentioned the health issues related to the large number of animals that perished in the Kansas City stockyards.
They estimated the loss in destroyed crops in the bottoms of Ray County to be $4 million. They closed with, “The need is urgent, and the farmers of Ray County will deeply appreciate any assistance you can give them.”
And then we have the great Flood of 1993 that was called a 400-year flood because the experts said a flood that size only happens every 400 years. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Ray County made the national news as our Hardin Cemetery was washing away.
On Saturday, April 27, the Ray County Historical Society will host a book signing party at the courthouse with author Kenneth Kieser, who wrote a book about the Flood of ‘93. His first chapter is about the Hardin Cemetery.
Ken came to Ray County Museum last year and interviewed local people who helped with the Hardin disaster. We will also have some of the items from Dean Snow’s private collection on display at the courthouse during his book signing there.
We had planned to host this event at the museum, but parking would be limited due to the Mud Run that is being held at the fairgrounds. We wish the fair board the best of luck and hope everyone will come to our book signing party and then head on out to the fairgrounds for more fun. The museum itself will be closed Saturday.
Every time I write a story, I learn something new. While researching this one, I found out that Johnny Cash had a hit song called, “If the Good Lord is Willing.” So now I have this Johnny Cash song stuck in my head: “I’ll be there you can bet your bottom dollar, If the good Lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise.”
Here we go again because now I have to figure out what the “bottom dollar” is and why it’s so important.
You can reach Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.